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By the earthquake, or fhaking, therefore, muft needs be meant (as in fome other parts of Divine Prophecy) a fhaking of the form of government, and State of things in the world. And by the darkening of the fun and moon. could only be meant the destroying all the fplendor of the then ruling powers; and by the fars falling to the earth, the utter degradation of those then in authority, that is, of all Pagan rulers, and of all the influence of idolatry. Confiftently with which interpretation, by the departing of the heavens, like a scroll of parchment running up together again when left to itself after it has been opened and unrolled to be read, must be meant plainly the hafty remove, and laying afide of the whole fyftem of government, both in fpiritual and temporal matters, that had, till that time, prevailed upon the face of the earth.
No images could be better adapted to defcribe most exactly the great change and the events which happened in the world in the period immediately fucceeding the days of perfecution just mentioned, A change of all the powers in being was the most characteristick 385. mark of the age from 260 to 312.
For, from the time of the fetting up the
thirty tyrants, to the time of Conftantine, (excepting only the fhort reign of Aurelian,) the empire was continually shaken, and torn, and gradually difmembered by civil wars: and. there was no bright fun or moon in it, no One great ruling potentate, as in the ages preceding; but it became a prey, and was plundered in every part, by the Goths, the Scythians, and other barbarous nations. The whole period was remarkable only for the expiring pangs and ftruggles of Pagan ty
And at the fame time, (as if it were on purpose to turn the attention of mankind to apply this precife part of this prophecy to thofe very days,) in the beginning of them, in the year 262, moft parts of the empire were vifited with a moft grievous peftilence and famine, attended with dreadful earthquakes, furprising darkness, and strange lightnings; by all which many perifhed. There was an accumulation alfo of other dire calamities and fhakings; amongst which, the fea overflowed and drowned whole countries.
In the conclufion the Pagan empire ceased: and those who had fupported its dominion. loft all power and authority, and were caft
down; and the whole form of government was changed.
And (what has been but little attended to) inftead of the cftablishment of that noble fyftem of Christian government, which we have reason to hope for at laft; a foundation even for the greatest corruption of Christianity was laid. In confiflency with which circumstance, it is very remarkable, that there is nothing. pleafant, or glorious, in the emblems made. use of in this part of the prophecy; as there moft undoubtedly would have been, had the prediction related to any events that might 386. justly be confidered as producing an effectual eftablishment of pure Chriflianity, or what
could be at all deemed a folid foundation of exultation or triumph to the Chriftian cause. This period was folely, in all refpects, and in all its cal remote confequences, a day of wrath; although it gave a space of reft to the Church, and an opportunity for many fincere perfons, in private, to embrace the found and pure principles of the Gospel.
The opening of the Seventh Seal, it being the laft, moft manifeftly opened the whole roll, or book; and permitted all that remained therein to be unfolded to the eye. And, therefore,
therefore, it must have, for the subject of the description contained therein, all the rest of the prophecy; that is, the contents of the whole book.
It muft, therefore, neceffarily comprehend both the events defcribed on the founding of the Seven Trumpets, with the whole period of time which they required; and alfo the events defcribed in the whole Appendix, or little additional Book: and, amongst the rest of them, those which were to take place on the pouring out of the Seven Vials; with the space of time required for their accomplishment.
And whereas, on the founding of the Seventh Trumpet, all was to be finished and compleated, it is moft manifeft that no space of time could be left, after that, for the accomplishment of any events whatever defcribed on the pouring out of the feven vials: whence it appears, that these events must be contemporary with fome part of the events defcribed as to happen on the founding of the seven trumpets; and that therefore they are, for that reafon obviously, related in a little Book, or Ap387. pendix, by themselves; which Appendix, it is clear, contained the hiftory of what was to
* Revelations, ch. x. ver. 7.
take place, more especially in the western part of what had been the great Roman empire ; as the trumpets were moft manifeftly defigned to follow, by their emblematical effects, the great head of that empire; and to pursue its history, and its fate finally, in the Eaft.
Having premised this, I fhall only juft obferve, that the filence defcribed as taking place for half an hour, on opening the Seventh Seal, moft clearly denotes that there was to be án interval of peace and quiet, without any remarkable events, for a certain space of time denoted by the prophetical half-hour, before the calamities to be defcribed under the Trumpets could have their first commence
Now let us fee whether the Trumpets are not as characteristically defcriptive of feveral diftinct periods as the Seals; of periods which cannot be mistaken one for another; and of periods containing events fo peculiar, that the emblems relating to them can hardly, with any the least degree of propriety, be applied to any other age or ages of the world whatever; or at least to any age wherein they can
* Revelations, ch. viii. ver. 1.